William W. Van Alstyne
Professor of Law, 1965-1973, William R. Perkins Professor of Law, 1973-1979, William R. and Thomas C. Perkins Professor of Law, 1979-2004, William R. and Thomas C. Perkins Professor Emeritus of Law, 2004-2019

William W. Van Alstyne was a member of the Duke Law faculty for almost forty years.  A scholar of constitutional law, Professor Van Alstyne’s areas of specialization included:  14th Amendment; 1st Amendment (Speech); 4th, 5th, 6th Amendments; Civil Rights Law; Comparative Constitutional Systems; Comparative Law--Constitutional Law; Constitutional History; Constitutional Law; Constitutional Tort Litigation; Due Process; Education Law; Eminent Domain (Takings); Federal Courts; Federalism; Health Law; Human Rights Law; Immigration Law; Intellectual Property Law--Copyright Law; Judicial Biography; Jurisprudence; Legal History; Media and the Law; Philosophy of Law; Race and American Law; Separation of Powers; and War Powers.

Professor Van Alstyne was a graduate of the University of Southern California (B.A. in philosophy, magna cum laude) and Stanford University Law School (J.D., Articles and Book Review Editor of The Stanford Law Review). Following his admission to the California Bar and brief service as Deputy Attorney General of California, he joined the Civil Rights Division of the U. S. Department of Justice handling voting rights cases in the South. After active duty with the U. S. Air Force, he was appointed to the law faculty of the Ohio State University, advancing to full professor in three years. Professor Van Alstyne was named to Duke’s William R. and Thomas C. Perkins Chair of Law in 1973.   He holds a certificate from The Hague Academy of International Law and has been honored with LL.D. degrees by Wake Forest University and the College of William & Mary.

Professor Van Alstyne’s professional writings appeared during four decades in the principal law journals in the United States, with frequent republication in foreign journals. They address virtually every major subject in the field of constitutional law. His work has been cited in a large number of judicial opinions including those of the Supreme Court. The Journal of Legal Studies for January, 2000, named Professor Van Alstyne in the top 40 most frequently cited legal scholars in the United States of the preceding half-century.

Professor Van Alstyne also taught and given professional papers internationally, in Germany, Austria, and Denmark, in Chile, the former Soviet Union, China, Japan, Canada, and Australia. He has been a visiting faculty member on the law faculties of the University of Chicago, Stanford, California (Berkeley and UCLA), Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Illinois, a Fulbright Lecturer in Chile, a Senior Fellow at the Yale Law School, and a faculty fellow at the Hague International Court of Justice. He has appeared as counsel and as amicus curiae in constitutional litigation in the federal courts, including the Supreme Court. He has also appeared in numerous hearings before Senate and House Committees, on legislation affecting the separation of powers, war powers, constitutional amendments, impeachments, legislation affecting civil rights and civil liberties, and nominations to the Supreme Court.

In 1987, Professor Van Alstyne was selected in a poll of federal judges, lawyers, and academics by the New York Law Journal as one of three academics among "the 10 most qualified" persons in the country for appointment to the Supreme Court, a distinction repeated in a similar poll by The American Lawyer, in 1991. Past National President of the American Association of University Professors, and former member of the National Board of Directors of the A.C.L.U., he was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1994.

In 2004 Professor Van Alstyne became the Lee Professor of Law at the Marshall-Wythe Law School at the College of William and Mary, where he taught until 2012.  In 2019 he died in his native Southern California.


Duke University, School of Law, Bulletin of Duke University School of Law [serial]

William W. Van Alstyne
Historic Faculty